I heard some terrible news of friend of mine who lost their 12 year old boy suddenly. My heart broke and my mind has been awash in prayer and sympathy. I cannot imagine what they are going through and what they will be going through. I cannot even fathom what they are going through as the prepare to remember the life of their precious son.
I have sat beside some people who have gone through tragedy. I have ministered to them as they sat in visitation lines and crowded around the tent after a committal service. Usually, I stand their silently, quietly and calmly. This is one of my gifts that God has blessed me with. I stand or sit there praying and nothing more. I truly wish others would simply do the same.
What usually happens, especially in the context of losing a young child, is that someone says something impossibly stupid. Stupidity can flow out of a mouth quickly when they are face to face with someone who is in the midst of tragedy.
There is a great article I read on Facebook years ago about who to complain to and vent to and who not too. I went searching and one quick Google later I found the original article form the LA Times. This article is brilliant because it demonstrates where we can complain and where we need to simply be silent and offer comfort. Depending on where you are in the circle depends on where and who you offer comfort too and who you vent or dump emotional baggage too. See image for details.
If you are the one in the middle of the circle you have the right to dump on anyone. If you are a lookie loo on outside edge…keep your mouth shut at all times while interacting with this group of people. That is the hardest part thought. In the midst of tragedy we get nervous, uncomfortable and that forces stupidity out from our gut and through our mouth. We think we have to say something and what we say is usually just horrible.
If you are going to offer comfort by showing up…and you should because the family WILL appreciate your presence there. So when you go, simply say, “I’m sorry,” and leave it there. You are allowed to say, “I am praying for you all,” but that should be the range of your conversation. You can offer physical contact, a hug or a handshake and pat. You can simply come and be present in the room say if they are in the hospital but don’t say anything unless spoken too.
A foot can travel to the mouth at a high rate of in these circumstances therefore the best thing to do is stand still and be quiet. Remember: Comfort IN and Dump OUT.